Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Triadica sebifera
(Chinese tallow tree)

Rojas-Sandoval J, 2018. Triadica sebifera (Chinese tallow tree). Invasive Species Compendium. Wallingford, UK: CABI. DOI:10.1079/ISC.48351.20203483851

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Datasheet

Triadica sebifera (Chinese tallow tree)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 09 July 2020
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Triadica sebifera
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Chinese tallow tree
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Triadica sebifera is a tree that behaves as an aggressive weed and forms monospecific stands with the potential to displace native plant species altering the composition, structure and functioning of invaded ecosystems. It is also able to...

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Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Triadica sebifera (L.) Small

Preferred Common Name

  • Chinese tallow tree

Other Scientific Names

  • Carumbium sebiferum (L.) Kurz
  • Croton sebiferum L.
  • Excoecaria sebifera
  • Sapium chihsinianum S.K.Lee
  • Sapium pleiocarpum Y.C.Tseng
  • Sapium sebiferum (L.) Roxb.
  • Sapium sebiferum (L.) Roxb
  • Seborium chinense Raf.
  • Seborium sebiferum (L.) Hurus.
  • Stillingfleetia sebifera (L.) Bojer
  • Stillingia sebifera (L.) Michx.
  • Stillingia sinensis (Lour.) Baill.
  • Triadica sinensis Lour.

International Common Names

  • English: candleberry tree; chicken tree; Chinese tallowtree; Florida aspen; popcorn tree; tallowtree; vegetable tallow; white wax berry
  • Spanish: arbol del sebo; palo de debo
  • French: arbre à suif; arbre savon; glutier
  • Chinese: wujiu

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: pau-do-sebo
  • Germany: Chinesischer Talgbaum
  • Indonesia: kasumbi; kirendang
  • Italy: albero del sapone
  • Japan: Nankin haze
  • Vietnam: cay soi

EPPO code

  • SAQSE

Summary of Invasiveness

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Triadica sebifera is a tree that behaves as an aggressive weed and forms monospecific stands with the potential to displace native plant species altering the composition, structure and functioning of invaded ecosystems. It is also able to alter nutrient cycles, fire regimes and successional patterns of invaded sites. Triadica sebifera is a prolific seed producer adapted to grow in a wide range of habitats. Its tolerance to drought, flooding and a degree of salinity, effective dispersal of seeds by avian vectors and water and a high germination rate contribute to the invasiveness of this species. Currently, this species is listed as invasive in the United States, India and Australia, but the range of introduction and naturalization of this species is very extensive across tropical, subtropical and temperate regions of the world. 

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Euphorbiales
  •                         Family: Euphorbiaceae
  •                             Genus: Triadica
  •                                 Species: Triadica sebifera

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The family Euphorbiaceae comprises about 218 genera and 6745 species of trees, shrubs and herbs with Pantropical distribution (Stevens, 2017). Triadica is a small genus comprising only three species endemic to east and Southeastern Asia. Triadica species are still often treated under Sapium even when they are well circumscribed and the genus is monophyletic (Esser, 2002). The species Triadica sebifera (still named as Sapium sebiferum (L.) Roxb in some botanical revisions) is an economically important species in Asia for the waxes and oils in the sarcotesta and cotyledons of its seeds. It is also a source of dye and timber (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2018; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2018). 

Description

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The following description is adapted from Flora of China Editorial Committee (2018):

Trees to 15 m tall, monoecious, glabrous; bark dark green, with longitudinal stripes, pale brownish when older; branchlets spreading, lenticellate. Leaves alternate; stipules 1-1.5 mm; petiole 2.5-6 cm, 2-glandular at apex; leaf blade rhomboid, rhomboid-ovate, broadly ovate, or rarely rhomboid-obovate, 3-13 × 3-9 cm, papery, base broadly rounded, truncate, or sometimes shallowly cordate, margin entire, apex acutely acuminate; midrib slightly elevated on both surfaces, lateral veins 6-12. Flowers yellowish green in terminal 3-35 cm racemes, female in lower part, male in upper part or male throughout. Male flowers 10-15 per bract; bracts broadly ovate, 1.5-2 × 1.5-2 mm, basal glands nearly reniform; pedicels slender, 1-4 mm; bracteoles 3, unequal, margins lacerate; calyx cup-shaped, shallowly 3-lobed, lobes obtuse, irregularly serrulate; stamens 2 or 3, exceeding calyx; filaments free, nearly as long as globose anthers. Female flowers 1 per bract, sometimes with several additional male flowers; bracts 3-partite, lobes acuminate, glands as in male; pedicels stout, 2-5 mm; bracteoles as in male flowers; calyx 3-partite, lobes ovate or ovate-lanceolate; ovary ovoid-globose, smooth, 3-celled; styles 3, connate at base; stigma revolute. Infructescences up to 28 cm; capsules subglobose to pyriform-globose, black when mature, 11-13 mm in diam., 3-seeded; cocci deciduous; columella persistent. Seeds oblate, ca. 8 × 6-7 mm, black, covered with white, waxy aril.

Plant Type

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Broadleaved
Perennial
Seed propagated
Tree
Vegetatively propagated
Woody

Distribution

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Triadica sebifera is native to China, especially to the region along the Huang He Valley (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2018). It has been introduced across tropical, subtropical and temperate regions of the world and can be found cultivated and naturalized across Asia, Africa, USA, West Indies, Australia, French Polynesia and Hawaii. It was also introduced into the former Soviet Union and is grown in coastal areas along the Black Sea in Georgia (GRIIS, 2018; ISSG, 2018; PIER, 2018; PROSEA, 2018; PROTA, 2018; USDA-ARS, 2018; USDA-NRCS, 2018). 

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 30 Jun 2021
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Planted Reference Notes

Africa

AlgeriaPresentIntroduced
Congo, Democratic Republic of thePresentIntroduced
MadagascarPresentIntroduced
RwandaPresentIntroduced
South AfricaPresentIntroducedNaturalized
SudanPresentIntroducedNaturalized
UgandaPresentIntroducedPlanted
ZambiaPresentIntroducedPlanted
ZimbabwePresentIntroduced

Asia

ChinaPresentNativeOriginal citation: Liu, 1986
-AnhuiPresentNativeNative and cultivated
-FujianPresentNativeNative and cultivated
-GansuPresentNativeNative and cultivated
-GuangdongPresentNativeNative and cultivated
-GuangxiPresentNativeNative and cultivated
-GuizhouPresentNativeNative and cultivated
-HainanPresentNativeNative and cultivated
-HenanPresentNative
-HubeiPresentNativeNative and cultivated
-HunanPresentNativePlanted
-JiangsuPresentNativeNative and cultivated
-JiangxiPresentNativePlanted
-ShaanxiPresentNative
-ShandongPresentNativeNative and cultivated
-ShanxiPresentNativeNative and cultivated
-SichuanPresentNativePlanted
-YunnanPresentNativeNative and cultivated
-ZhejiangPresentNativeNative and cultivated
GeorgiaPresentIntroducedCultivated
Hong KongPresentIntroduced
IndiaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedCultivated
-DelhiPresentIntroducedPlanted
-Himachal PradeshPresentIntroducedInvasive
-PunjabPresentIntroducedInvasive
-SikkimPresentIntroducedInvasive
-Tamil NaduPresentIntroducedNaturalized
-Uttar PradeshPresentIntroducedInvasive
-UttarakhandPresentIntroducedNaturalized
IndonesiaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedCultivated
-JavaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedCultivated and naturalized in Jakarta
-Lesser Sunda IslandsPresentIntroducedNaturalizedCultivated
JapanPresentCultivated. Different sources report as native or introduced
-HonshuPresentNativePlanted
-KyushuPresentNativePlanted
North KoreaPresentIntroduced
PakistanPresentIntroducedNaturalizedCultivated
SingaporePresentIntroducedNaturalizedCultivated
South KoreaPresentIntroduced
Sri LankaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedCultivated
TaiwanPresentNativeInvasive
VietnamPresentNative

Europe

FrancePresentIntroducedNaturalized

North America

Costa RicaPresentIntroducedNaturalized
CubaPresentIntroduced
MartiniquePresentIntroducedNaturalized
MexicoPresent
Puerto RicoPresentIntroduced
United StatesPresentIntroducedInvasive
-AlabamaPresentIntroducedInvasiveNoxious weed
-ArkansasPresentIntroducedInvasiveNoxious weed
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedInvasiveNoxious weed
-FloridaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasive
-GeorgiaPresentIntroducedInvasiveNoxious weed
-HawaiiPresent, Few occurrencesIntroducedMay be kept in check by the herbivorous beetle Adoretus sinicus; First reported: 1920s
-IllinoisPresentIntroducedPlanted
-LouisianaPresentIntroducedInvasiveNoxious weed
-MississippiPresentIntroducedInvasiveNoxious weed
-North CarolinaPresentIntroducedInvasiveNoxious weed
-OklahomaPresentIntroducedPlanted
-South CarolinaPresentIntroducedInvasiveNoxious weed
-TexasPresentIntroducedInvasiveNoxious weed
-VirginiaPresentIntroduced

Oceania

AustraliaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-New South WalesPresentIntroducedInvasive
-QueenslandPresentIntroducedInvasive
-VictoriaPresent
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced
New ZealandPresent

South America

BrazilPresent
PeruPresent

History of Introduction and Spread

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Triadica sebifera has been widely introduced as an ornamental tree and for wax and oil production (Bruce et al., 1997; USDA-ARS, 2018). In the United States, it was originally introduced from China in 1772 by Benjamin Franklin, who envisioned the species being used for wax and oil production. In 1906, the Foreign Plant Introduction Division of the USDA advocated extensive cultivation of T. sebifera in coastal Louisiana and Texas in an effort to establish a commercial soap industry. Simultaneously, since the early 1900s it has been repeatedly introduced as an ornamental tree (Langeland et al., 2001). T. sebifera was reported as escaped from cultivation as early as 1803 and spreading across Louisiana in the 1940s. Since that time, it has been recognized as a pest in North and South Carolina since the 1970s. It is now declared a noxious invasive weed in Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi and Texas (USDA-NRCS, 2018) and it is rapidly spreading across California, Georgia, Alabama and Arkansas (CE-PPC, 1999; Meyer, 2011; USDA-NRCS, 2018). By 1996 it was recorded naturalized in 57% of all Florida’s counties (Langeland et al., 2001). The range of T. sebifera is predicted to continue expanding from the Sacramento River delta region in California and also north and west from southeastern United States coastal regions, until it reaches limits for drought, salinity and cold tolerance (Pattison and Mack, 2008). 

In Asia, T. sebifera has been widely cultivated in China and South-East Asia for centuries. Currently, it can be found naturalized in Indonesia (near Jakarta, Timor), Singapore, Pakistan, India and Japan. In the late 1700s it was also introduced as an ornamental tree into the former Soviet Union and it is now grown in coastal areas along the Black Sea in Georgia (PROSEA, 2018). It has occasionally been planted in tropical Africa, where it occurs from Sudan to South Africa and also in Madagascar (PROTA, 2018).

Risk of Introduction

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The risk of new introductions of T. sebifera is very high mainly due to its popular use as a ornamental tree. Despite the problems T. sebifera has caused in the USA and its listing as invasive in many countries, it is still traded commercially and seeds are available online (USDA-NRCS, 2018). The experience in the USA has been that it is extremely difficult to eliminate this plant once it has become established in the wild. 

Habitat

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In China, T. sebifera grows in forests established on limestone at elevations below 1200 m (Wheeler and Ding, 2014; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2018). In areas within and outside its native distribution range, T. sebifera can be found growing in wet forests and grassland, freshwater wetlands, swamps, coastal prairies and riparian habitats. It also occurs on disturbed sites, open grounds, roadsides, agricultural lands, urban areas and storm-damaged forests (Meyer, 2011). The SE-EPPC (2003) note that establishment can occur on both disturbed and undisturbed sites. 

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial ManagedDisturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedRail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedUrban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalWetlands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
LittoralCoastal areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The chromosome number reported for Triadica sebifera is 2n=44, 88 (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2018; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2018). The SE-EPPC (2003) reported a high level of genetic diversity and more than 100 cultivars of T. sebifera have been developed. Two important cultivars are ‘eagle-claw’ and ‘grape’, which differ in fruit form and maturation period. In India, T. sebifera easily hybridizes with the native species Sapium eugeniaefolium [Triadica cochinchinensis]. The hybrid is more vigorous, possibly endangering the future of Triadica cochinchinensis in some areas (PROSEA, 2018). 

Reproductive Biology

Triadica sebifera is a monoecious species. The flowers are arranged in terminal spike-like inflorescences. The staminate (male) flowers occur in clusters at the upper nodes of the inflorescence, and the pistillate (female) flowers are solitary, located on short branches at the base of the spike (Bruce et al., 1997; Meyer, 2011). It has been suggested that the species may be pollinated by wind, but a study performed in the Gulf Coast of North America showed that T. sebifera is strongly outcrossing and primarily pollinated by bees (Clark, 2016). A production of ~100,000 seeds per tree has been reported (Meyer, 2011; ISSG, 2018; USDA-NRCS, 2018). 

Physiology and Phenology

In China, Triadica sebifera has been recorded flowering from April to August and fruiting from August to December (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2018). In the United States, flowers are produced from April to June and fruits from August to November (Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2018). In a germination experiment performed in northern Florida, seeds started germinating at the end of February, and germination peaked in mid-March to April. May was the latest month in which seeds were observed germinating in northern Florida. The seeds are capable of remaining viable for years, and a high proportion of the seeds produce seedlings (Meyer, 2011; ISSG, 2018; USDA-NRCS, 2018).

Longevity

Triadica sebifera is a perennial long-lived tree. Trees generally live 15-50 years with a potential maximum age of 100 years. This species often begins flowering and fruiting when plants are one meter tall or approximately 3 years old. In greenhouse experiments, seedlings flowered in their first year of growth (Meyer, 2011; ISSG, 2018).

Activity patterns

Under favourable conditions Triadica sebifera is a fast grower and can grow up to 1 m per year until it is 8 to 10 years old. By the time it is 20 years, it may be up to 13 m tall with a stem diameter of up to 40 cm. In the wild, flowering starts when plants are 3 to 4 years old. The fruits take three to four months to ripen and be dispersed (PROSEA, 2018; PROTA, 2018).

Environmental Requirements

Triadica sebifera can be found growing in areas with mean annual temperatures in the range of 15-30°C, though it may tolerate cold winters with a mean minimum temperature of the coolest month of 0°C, and an absolute minimum temperatures may be above -12°C to -15°C. It also prefers areas with a mean annual rainfall ranging from 1500 mm to 2800 mm (but tolerates 700 mm to >3000 mm). It tolerates extended drought with dry seasons of up to five months duration. This species is adapted to grow in a wide range of soils and tolerates degraded, saline, waterlogged and moist soils with a pH range of 5-8 pH. It thrives in sunny areas but can also grow in shaded conditions and thus it may be found growing under closed canopies (Meyer, 2011; ISSG, 2018; PROSEA, 2018; PROTA, 2018).

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
45 35 0 2800

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) -12 -15
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 15 22
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 25 30

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration25number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall7003000mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Bimodal
Summer
Uniform
Winter

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free
  • seasonally waterlogged

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • saline

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Achaea janata Herbivore Plants|Leaves not specific PROSEA (2018)
Adoretus sinicus Herbivore not specific Siemann and Rogers (2003)
Armillaria tabescens Pathogen Plants|Whole plant not specific PROSEA (2018)
Bikasha collaris Herbivore Plants|Whole plant to genus Huang et al. (2011)
Caloptilia triadicae Herbivore Plants|Whole plant not specific Wheeler and Ding (2014)
Diaprepes abbreviatus Herbivore Plants|Whole plant not specific Wheeler and Ding (2014)
Melanoplus angustipennis Herbivore Plants|Whole plant not specific Wheeler and Ding (2014)
Meloidogyne javanica Pathogen Plants|Whole plant not specific PROSEA (2018)
Myllocerus undatus Herbivore Plants|Whole plant not specific Wheeler and Ding (2014)
Orphulella pelidna Herbivore Plants|Whole plant not specific Wheeler and Ding (2014)
Pachnaeus litus Herbivore Plants|Whole plant not specific Wheeler and Ding (2014)
Pseudocercospora stillingiae Pathogen Plants|Whole plant not specific PROSEA (2018)
Spodoptera latifascia Herbivore Plants|Whole plant not specific Wheeler and Ding (2014)

Notes on Natural Enemies

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The fungi species Pseudocercospora stillingiae and Armillaria tabescens and the hemiparasitic plant Dendrophthoe falcata (Loranthaceae) are known to affect Triadica sebifera. In India, trees are sometimes defoliated by larvae of the moth Achaea janata. The rootknot nematode Meloidogyne javanica has also been recorded causing damage (PROSEA, 2018). In the United States, a number of herbivores have been reported feeding on T. sebifera, including Melanoplus angustipennis, Orphullela pelidna, Spodoptera latifascia, Myllocerus undatus, Pachnaeus litus, Diaprepes abbreviates, Caloptilia triadicae and Bikasha collaris (Wheeler and Ding, 2014). 

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Triadica sebifera spreads mainly by seeds. It is a prolific seed producer and a single reproductive tree may produce more than 100,000 seeds in a year. Seeds are dispersed by water and frugivorous birds. In the United States, 24 bird species have been reported consuming and dispersing fruits of T. sebifera (Conway et al., 2002; Meyer, 2011). T. sebifera has the potential to re-sprout when injured and can also spread by root suckering (Meyer, 2011; ISSG, 2018; PROSEA, 2018; USDA-NRCS, 2018). 

Intentional introduction

Triadica sebifera has been intentionally introduced across tropical, subtropical and temperate regions of the world as an ornamental tree, for the waxes and oils in its seeds and as a source of dye and timber (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2018; ISSG, 2018; USDA-ARS, 2018).

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Animal/plant collections None
Animal/plant products None
Biodiversity (generally) Negative
Crop production None
Environment (generally) Negative
Fisheries / aquaculture None
Forestry production None
Human health Negative
Livestock production None
Native fauna None
Native flora Negative
Rare/protected species None
Tourism None
Trade/international relations None
Transport/travel None

Impact

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No precise information is available but the control of S. sebiferum is very expensive owing to its ability to resprout if the aboveground vegetation is killed and its high rate of reproduction and dispersal.

Economic Impact

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Triadica sebifera is one of the most serious weeds in the southeastern United States. By 2008, this invasive species was estimated to cover nearly 185,000 ha of southern forests. Cost estimates for controlling infestations of T. sebifera in forestlands of eastern Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi range from $200 million to $400 million in the next 20 years. In Florida between 1998 and 2007, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Invasive Plant Management (DEP-BIPM) spent nearly $750,000 treating T. sebifera on more than 2023 ha of natural areas in north and central Florida (Wheeler and Ding, 2014). 

Environmental Impact

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Triadica sebifera is regarded as an environmental weed in Australia (Queensland Government, 2018) and as an invasive species in the United States and India (Khuroo et al., 2012; USDA-NRCS, 2018). It is an aggressive fast-growing tree that forms dense monospecific stands that outcompete native vegetation. In areas dominated by T. sebifera, marshes, grasslands and prairies are converted into woodlands, with serious consequences for resident and migratory fauna. In some areas across the United States (e.g. Texas), the rate of invasion of coastal prairies is so rapid that areas covered by the weed have increased from approximately 2% of land area in 1970 to 16% in 1990 to >30% in 2000 (Bruce et al., 1997; Cameron et al., 2000).

Triadica sebifera negatively affects the micro-fauna that break down the leaf litter and it alters nutrient cycles in invaded areas. This species may enhance productivity (or encourage eutrophication) in ecosystems by the addition of nutrients (mainly nitrogen and phosphorous but also zinc, manganese and iron) from the rapid decay of its leaves. The leaves also produce tannins, but it is still unclear if T. sebifera produces other allelopathic compounds that may interfere with the germination of native species (Bruce et al., 1997; Bogler, 2000; Rice, 2002; ISSG, 2018).

Triadica sebifera can also modify fire regimes across North America. This invasive species overtops and suppresses the growth of understory coastal prairie species, reducing the continuity of highly flammable surface fuels and thus the frequency of fire (Grace, 1998; Brooks et al,. 2004). 

Impact on Biodiversity

Triadica sebifera is a very aggressive invader that forms dense stands with the potential to alter species composition, community structure and ecosystem processes in native habitats (Bruce et al., 1997, 1997; ISSG, 2018). Across the southern United States, native grasslands have been replaced by dense stands of T. sebifera trees and most of the coastal prairies along the Gulf Coast have been converted to T. sebifera woodland thickets (Bruce et al., 1997). This species is also invading endangered coastal prairies along Louisiana and Texas, which are critical habitats for the federally endangered bird species Tympanuchus cupido attwateri and Grus americana (Bruce et al. 1997; Grace; 1998; Wheeler and Ding, 2014). 

Similarly, populations of the introduced common starling (Sturnus vulgaris) that are limited by the availability of food in the winter are apparently increasing across the USA in response to T. sebifera seed availability. Starlings compete with native cavity-nesting birds for nest sites and increases in the number of starlings may reduce the population of the native redheaded woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) and the red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) (both listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species; BirdLife International, 2020). Further increases in T. sebifera numbers could negatively affect these native bird species by providing abundant food for their competitors (Renne et al., 2002; ISSG, 2018). 

Impact: Biodiversity

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Dense, single species stands formed by this fast growing species displace other vegetation in where S. sebiferum has become invasive, impacting on native flora as in Florida (Anon, 2003b). There are impact also on fauna, as the tree provides little food for native herbivores except for birds which disperse the seed (Anon, 2003a). S. sebiferum is capable of changing the course of natural succession processes so that habitats such as marsh and prairie are converted into woodland, with serious consequences for resident and migratory fauna (Anon, 2001).

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Tympanuchus cupido attwateri (Attwater's greater prairie chicken)USA ESA listing as endangered speciesUSACompetition - monopolizing resources; Competition - smotheringWheeler and Ding (2014) US Federal Endangered Species List
Grus americanaNo DetailsUSACompetition - monopolizing resources; Competition - smotheringWheeler and Ding (2014) US Federal Endangered Species List
Melanerpes erythrocephalusNo DetailsUSACompetition - monopolizing resources; Competition - smotheringRenne et al. (2002) IUCN Red List (Least Concern)
Melanerpes carolinusNo DetailsUSACompetition - monopolizing resources; Competition - smotheringRenne et al. (2002) IUCN Red List (Least Concern)

Social Impact

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The leaves and unripened fruits of Triadica sebifera may be poisonous to cattle and the sap may be a skin irritant to humans. Allergic reactions have been reported in people sensitive to tallow pollen (Rice, 2002; Wheeler and Ding, 2014).

Risk and Impact Factors

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Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Gregarious
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Altered trophic level
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of fire regime
  • Modification of nutrient regime
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts human health
  • Negatively impacts animal health
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Causes allergic responses
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Competition - smothering
  • Hybridization
  • Interaction with other invasive species
  • Poisoning
  • Rapid growth
  • Rooting
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

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Triadica sebifera is a valuable multipurpose agroforestry species in the central Himalayan region and across Asia, and is also a popular ornamental tree for its colourful autumn leaves. The fruits of T. sebifera contains two types of fat. The white, fleshy outer seedcoat (sarcotesta) produces a fat known as Chinese vegetable tallow, while the cotyledons of the seed (kernel) yield a drying oil called stillingia oil. These oils are used as a substitute for cocoa butter in the food industry, to make paints, varnishes, soaps and candles, and to waterproof umbrellas. The leaves contain a dye, used in Asia to dye silk black. 

As an agroforestry species, Triadica sebifera is a good soil binder and contributes to nutrient recycling. It is planted in tea plantations as a shade tree and is also a minor timber tree. Its wood is sometimes used to make various implements, toys, furniture and Chinese printing blocks. The root, bark and leaves are used in traditional medicine in China (PROSEA, 2018; PROTA, 2018).

Uses List

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Environmental

  • Agroforestry
  • Shade and shelter
  • Soil improvement

Fuels

  • Fuelwood
  • Miscellaneous fuels

General

  • Ornamental

Human food and beverage

  • Oil/fat

Materials

  • Dye/tanning
  • Essential oils
  • Pesticide
  • Wax
  • Wood/timber

Wood Products

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Furniture

Sawn or hewn building timbers

  • For light construction

Woodware

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Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Cultural Control

Grazing or flooding are not management options for controlling T. sebifera due to the toxicity of foliage to cattle and the plants tolerance to waterlogging (Rice, 2002).

Mechanical Control

Seedlings can be effectively removed by hand, as long as the entire root is removed (SE-EPPC, 2003), but cutting of mature plants requires herbicide stump treatment because of suckering (Owens, 2001). Both stumps and roots are able to resprout after damage. The best time to cut plants is after they have come into flower but before they have produced seed as this has an immediate effect on the dispersal of seed (SE-EPPC, 2003). Girdling can be used for small groups of large trees but is not appropriate for large numbers of individuals because of the effort required in applying follow up treatments to control resprouting (SE-EPPC, 2003). In parts of Texas, farmers remove T. sebifera trees with bulldozers, disk the soil and sow with pasture grasses. However, the use of heavy equipment often causes damage to non-target vegetation and results in soil disturbance (Bruce et al., 1997).

Chemical Control 

Herbicides such as triclopyr, Garlon 4, Garlon 3A and imazapyr are used for the treatment of cut stems (Langeland et al., 2001). Direct foliar applications of glyphosate and triclopyr are often used for monospecific groupings of seedlings (SE-EPPC, 2003). 

Biological Control

Although there are no official reports of biological control for Triadica sebifera,Wheeler and Ding (2014) suggest that one of the best candidates is the root feeding beetle Bikasha collaris. This species causes both below ground and above ground damage to the plant by larval and adult feeding, respectively. However, the host specificity of both feeding stages still needs to be tested against a range of valued Euphorbiaceae species.

References

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Acevedo-Rodríguez, P., Strong, M. T., 2012. Catalogue of the Seed Plants of the West Indies, Washington, DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution.1192 pp. http://botany.si.edu/Antilles/WestIndies/catalog.htm

Anon, 2003. Invasive Alien Plant Species in Virginia. Boyce, USA: Virginia Native Plant Society. http://www.vnps.org/complete_list.html

Anon, 2003. Weed Alert Chinese Tallow Sapium sebiferum. Tallahassee, USA: Florida Department of Environmental Protection. http://www.dep.state.fl.us/lands/invaspec/2ndlevpgs/pdfs/ChineseTallow.pdf

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BirdLife International, 2020. IUCN Red List for birds, BirdLife International. http://www.birdlife.org

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Brooks, M. L., D'Antonio, C. M., Richardson, D. M., Grace, J. B., Keeley, J. E., DiTomaso, J. M., Hobbs, R. J., Pellant, M., Pyke, D., 2004. Effects of invasive alien plants on fire regimes. BioScience, 54(7), 677-688. doi: 10.1641/0006-3568(2004)054[0677:EOIAPO]2.0.CO;2

Bruce KA, Cameron GN, Harcombe PA, Jubinsky G, 1997. Introduction, impact on native habitats, and management of a woody invader, the Chinese tallow tree, Sapium sebiferum (L.) Roxb. Natural Areas Journal, 17(3):255-260; 53 ref

Burkill IH, 1966. A Dictionary of the Economic Products of the Malay Peninsula, 2(2nd edition):2444 pp

Cai DX, 1978. Effects of different sowing densities on Chinese tallow tree seedling quality. Subtropical Forest Science and Technology, 4:23-25

Cameron, G. N., Glumac, E. G., Eshelman, B. D., 2000. Germination and dormancy in seeds of Sapium sebiferum (Chinese tallow tree). Journal of Coastal Research, 16(2), 391-395.

CE-PPC, 1999. Exotic pest plant list. USA: California Exotic Pest Plant Council. http://www.caleppc.org/info/plantlist.html

Christman S, 1999. Sapium sebiferum. http://www/floridata.com/ref/S/sapi_seb.cfm

Clark JW, 2016. Determining the pollination mechanism of a problematic invasive species in the Gulf South: Triadica sebifera. Masters Thesis. New Orleans, USA: University of New Orleans Theses and Dissertations. https://scholarworks.uno.edu/td/2134

Conway, W. C., Smith, L. M., Bergan, J. F., 2002. Avian use of Chinese tallow seeds in coastal Texas. Southwestern Naturalist, 47(4), 550-556. doi: 10.2307/3672658

Cronk QCB, Fuller JL, 1995. Plant invaders: the threat to natural ecosystems. London, UK; Chapman & Hall Ltd, xiv + 241 pp

Dosch, J. J., Peterson, C. J., Haines, B. L., 2007. Seed rain during initial colonization of abandoned pastures in the premontane wet forest zone of southern Costa Rica. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 23(2), 151-159. doi: 10.1017/S0266467406003853

Esser HJ, 2002. A revision of Triadica Lour.(Euphorbiaceae). Harvard Papers in Botany, 1, 17-21.

Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2018. Flora of China. In: Flora of China St. Louis, Missouri and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria.http://www.efloras.org/flora_page.aspx?flora_id=2

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Glumac EL, Cowles JR, Klass DL, 1989. Woody biomass production and coppicing of the Chinese tallow tree. Energy from biomass and wastes XII. 1989, 197-210; 25 ref

Grace JB, 1998. Can prescribed fire save the endangered coastal prairie ecosystem from Chinese tallow invasion?. Endangered Species Update, 15, 70-76.

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Holm LG, Pancho JV, Herberger JP, Plucknett DL, 1979. A geographical atlas of world weeds. New York, USA: John Wiley and Sons, 391 pp

Huang Wei, Wheeler, G. S., Purcell, M. F., Ding JianQing, 2011. The host range and impact of Bikasha collaris (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), a promising candidate agent for biological control of Chinese tallow, Triadica sebifera (Euphorbiaceae) in the United States. Biological Control, 56(3), 230-238. doi: 10.1016/j.biocontrol.2010.11.014

India Biodiversity Portal, 2018. Online Portal of India Biodiversity. In: Online Portal of India Biodiversity . http://indiabiodiversity.org/species/list

ISSG, 2018. Global Invasive Species Database (GISD). In: Global Invasive Species Database (GISD) : Invasive Species Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission.http://www.issg.org/database/welcome/

Jubinsky G, Anderson LC, 1996. The invasive potential of Chinese tallow-tree (Sapium sebiferum Roxb.) in the southeast. Castanea, 61(3):226-231; 19 ref

Khan FW, Khan K, Malik MN, 1973. Vegetable tallow and stillingia oil from the fruits of Sapium sebiferum Roxb. Pakistan Journal of Forestry, 23(3):257-266; 16 ref

Khuroo, A. A., Reshi, Z. A., Malik, A. H., Weber, E., Rashid, I., Dar, G. H., 2012. Alien flora of India: taxonomic composition, invasion status and biogeographic affiliations. Biological Invasions, 14(1), 99-113. doi: 10.1007/s10530-011-9981-2

Krussmann G, 1978. Handbook of broad leaved trees and shrubs. Vol. III. PRU-Z. [Handbuch der Laubgeholze. Band III. PRU-Z.] 1978, 496 pp.; many pl. and fig

Kuldeep Singh, Kapur SK, Sarin YK, Singh K, 1993. Domestication of Sapium sebiferum under Jammu conditions. Indian Forester, 119(1):36-42; 4 ref

Langeland KA, Burks KC, 1998. Identification and Biology of Non-native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas. Gainesville, Florida, USA: University of Florida, 165 pp

Langeland, K. A., Stocker, R. K., 2001. Control of non-native plants in natural areas of Florida. In: Control of non-native plants in natural areas of Florida , (No. SP 242) . Florida, USA: Florida Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida.http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/WG/WG20900.pdf

Li G, 1961. Species and varieties of Chinese tallow tree and their biological characteristics in Zhejiang Province. Zhejiang Agricultural Science, 6:6-13

Li HL, 1963. Woody flora of Taiwan. 1963. pp. X + 974. 123 refs. Livingston Publishing Company, Narberth, Pa

Li SG, 1956. Plants of Genus Sapium. Acta Phyto Sinica, 5(2):14-18

Liu L, Sun CJ, 1986. Main Economic Trees of China. Jiangsu Science and Technology Press

Liu TS, 1962. Illustrations of Native and Introduced Ligneous Plants of Taiwan. Taipei, Taiwan: National Taiwan University Press, 301

Luken JO, Thieret JW, 1996. Assessment and Management of Plant Invasions. New York, USA: Springer-Verlag. 324 pp

Meyer R, 2011. Triadica sebifera. In: Fire Effects Information System. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Montana, USA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory.https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/tree/triseb/all.html

Owens B, 2001. Louisiana Invasive Plants: Chinese tallow tree. In: LSU AgCenter . Louisiana, USA: Louisiana University College AgCenter.https://www.lsuagcenter.com/topics/environment/invasive%20species/chinese%20tallow%20tree

Pattison, R. R., Mack, R. N., 2008. Potential distribution of the invasive tree Triadica sebifera (Euphorbiaceae) in the United States: evaluating CLIMEX predictions with field trials. Global Change Biology, 14(4), 813-826. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2007.01528.x

PIER, 2018. Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk. In: Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: HEAR, University of Hawaii.http://www.hear.org/pier/index.html

PROSEA, 2018. Plant Resources of South-East Asia. Bogor, Indonesia: PROSEA Foundation.http://proseanet.org/prosea/e-prosea.php

PROTA, 2018. PROTA4U web database. In: PROTA4U web database Wageningen and Nairobi, Netherlands\Kenya: Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.https://www.prota4u.org/database/

Queensland Government, 2018. Weeds of Australia, Biosecurity Queensland Edition. In: Weeds of Australia, Biosecurity Queensland Edition , Australia: Queensland Government.http://keyserver.lucidcentral.org/weeds/data/media/Html/search.html

Renne, I. J., Barrow, W. C., Jr., Randall, L. A. J., Bridges, W. C., Jr., 2002. Generalized avian dispersal syndrome contributes to Chinese tallow tree (Sapium sebiferum, Euphorbiaceae) invasiveness. Diversity and Distributions, 8(5), 285-295. doi: 10.1046/j.1472-4642.2002.00150.x

Rice B, 2002. Weed Alert! Sapium sebiferum (syn. Triadica sinensis) (Chinese Tallowtree, Florida Aspen, Popcorn Tree). The Nature Conservancy, Wildland Invasive Species Team. http://tncweeds.ucdavis.edu/alert/alrtsapi.html

Scheld HW, Cowles JR, 1981. Woody biomass potential of the Chinese tallow tree. Economic Botany, 35(4):391-397; 1 pl.; 4 ref

Schopmeyer CS, 1974. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. USDA Agriculture Handbook, 450. Washington DC, USA: USDA

SE-EPPC, 2003. Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council Invasive Plant Manual. Chinese Tallowtree. http://www.invasive.org/eastern/eppc/SASE.html

Si GS, Li ZJ, 1988. Studies on interplanting between tea and chinese tallow tree. J, of Zhejiang Forestry College, 5(2):115-122

Siemann E, Rogers WE, 2003. Increased competitive ability of an invasive tree may be limited by an invasive beetle. Ecological Applications, 13:1503-1507

Sosef MSM, Hong LT, Prawirohatmodjo S, eds, 1998. Plant resources of southeast Asia. Timber trees: lesser-known timbers. Leiden, The Netherlands: Backhuys Publishers, 5(3)

Stevens, P. F., 2017. Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. Version 14. In: Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. Version 14 . St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden.http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/research/APweb/

Streets RJ, 1962. Exotic forest trees in the British Commonwealth. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press

Tong L, 1975. A new propagation method of Chinese tallow tree: cut rooting. Plants, 4:30-32

Tong QY, 1987. Review on silviculture practices for high yielding chinese tallow tree plantations. Zhejiang Forest Science and Technology, 7(1):6-10

USDA-ARS, 2018. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. In: Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory.https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysimple.aspx

USDA-NRCS, 2004. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5. Baton Rouge, USA: National Plant Data Center. http://plants.usda.gov

USDA-NRCS, 2018. The PLANTS Database. In: The PLANTS Database Greensboro, North Carolina, USA: National Plant Data Team.https://plants.sc.egov.usda.gov

Vikrant Jaryan, Uniyal, S. K., Gupta, R. C., Singh, R. D., 2013. Alien flora of Indian Himalayan State of Himachal Pradesh. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 185(7), 6129-6153. doi: 10.1007/s10661-012-3013-2

Wang SY, Qi CJ, Li ZK, 1991. Forestry in Hunan Province. Hunan, China: Hunan Science and Technology Press

Westbrooks RG, 1998. Invasive plants, changing the landscape of America: Fact book. Washington DC, USA: Federal Interagency Committee for the Management of Noxious and Exotic Weeds (FICMNEW), 109 pp

Wheeler, G. S., Ding, J. Q., 2014. Is Chinese tallowtree, Triadica sebifera, an appropriate target for biological control in the United States?. Invasive Plant Science and Management, 7(2), 345-359. doi: 10.1614/IPSM-D-13-00061.1

Wu ZY, 1984. Index Florae Yunnanensis. Yunnan, China: People's Publishing House

Wu ZY, 1984. Index Florae Yunnanensis. Yunnan, China: The People's Publishing House

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Xu JS, Chikashige T, Meguro S, Kawachi S, 1991. Effective utilization of stillingia or Chinese tallow-tree (Sapium sebiferum) fruits. Mokuzai Gakkaishi - Journal of the Japan Wood Research Society, 37(5):494-498

Xu YQ, 1976. Major economic tree species in south China. Beijing, China: Agriculture Press

Zhang KD, Lin YT, 1994. Chinese Tallow Tree. Beijing, China: China Forestry Publishing House

Zheng WJ, 1978. Silvicultural techniques of major tree species in China. Beijing, China: Chinese Agriculture Publishing House, Vol. 2

Distribution References

Acevedo-Rodríguez P, Strong M T, 2012. Catalogue of the Seed Plants of the West Indies. Washington, DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution. 1192 pp. http://botany.si.edu/Antilles/WestIndies/catalog.htm

Anon, 2003. Weed Alert Chinese Tallow Sapium sebiferum., Tallahassee, USA: Florida Department of Environmental Protection. http://www.dep.state.fl.us/lands/invaspec/2ndlevpgs/pdfs/ChineseTallow.pdf

CABI, 2020. CABI Distribution Database: Status as determined by CABI editor. Wallingford, UK: CABI

CABI, Undated. Compendium record. Wallingford, UK: CABI

CABI, Undated a. CABI Compendium: Status inferred from regional distribution. Wallingford, UK: CABI

CABI, Undated b. CABI Compendium: Status as determined by CABI editor. Wallingford, UK: CABI

CalEPPC, 1999. Exotic pest plant list., USA: California Exotic Pest Plant Council. http://www.caleppc.org/info/plantlist.html

Choudhury R A, McRoberts N, Gubler W D, 2017. First report of powdery mildew caused by Podosphaera sp. on Triadica sebifera in California. Plant Disease. 101 (2), 389. DOI:10.1094/PDIS-07-16-1001-PDN

Dosch J J, Peterson C J, Haines B L, 2007. Seed rain during initial colonization of abandoned pastures in the premontane wet forest zone of southern Costa Rica. Journal of Tropical Ecology. 23 (2), 151-159. DOI:10.1017/S0266467406003853

EPPO, 2021. EPPO Global database. In: EPPO Global database, Paris, France: EPPO. https://gd.eppo.int/

Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2018. Flora of China. In: Flora of China. St. Louis, Missouri and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria. http://www.efloras.org/flora_page.aspx?flora_id=2

GRIIS, 2018. Global Register of Introduced and Invasive Species., http://www.griis.org/

India Biodiversity Portal, 2018. Online Portal of India Biodiversity. In: Online Portal of India Biodiversity. http://indiabiodiversity.org/species/list

Khuroo A A, Reshi Z A, Malik A H, Weber E, Rashid I, Dar G H, 2012. Alien flora of India: taxonomic composition, invasion status and biogeographic affiliations. Biological Invasions. 14 (1), 99-113. http://www.springerlink.com/content/0p0331853 lm77 gl6/ DOI:10.1007/s10530-011-9981-2

Li G, 1961. Species and varieties of Chinese tallow tree and their biological characteristics in Zhejiang Province. In: Zhejiang Agricultural Science, 6 6-13.

Liu TS, 1962. Illustrations of Native and Introduced Ligneous Plants of Taiwan., Taipei, Taiwan: National Taiwan University Press. 301.

PIER, 2018. Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk. In: Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk. Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: HEAR, University of Hawaii. http://www.hear.org/pier/index.html

PROSEA, 2018. Plant Resources of South-East Asia., Bogor, Indonesia: PROSEA Foundation. http://proseanet.org/prosea/e-prosea.php

PROTA, 2018. PROTA4U web database. In: PROTA4U web database. Wageningen and Nairobi, Netherlands\Kenya: Plant Resources of Tropical Africa. https://www.prota4u.org/database/

Queensland Government, 2018. Weeds of Australia, Biosecurity Queensland Edition. In: Weeds of Australia, Biosecurity Queensland Edition. Australia: Queensland Government. http://keyserver.lucidcentral.org/weeds/data/media/Html/search.html

SE-EPPC, 2003. Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council Invasive Plant Manual. In: Chinese Tallowtree, http://www.invasive.org/eastern/eppc/SASE.html

Siemann E, Rogers WE, 2003. Increased competitive ability of an invasive tree may be limited by an invasive beetle. In: Ecological Applications, 13 1503-1507.

USDA-ARS, 2018. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. In: Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysimple.aspx

USDA-NRCS, 2004. The PLANTS Database. Greensboro, North Carolina, USA: National Plant Data Team. https://plants.sc.egov.usda.gov

USDA-NRCS, 2018. The PLANTS Database. In: The PLANTS Database. Greensboro, North Carolina, USA: National Plant Data Team. https://plants.sc.egov.usda.gov

Vikrant Jaryan, Uniyal S K, Gupta R C, Singh R D, 2013. Alien flora of Indian Himalayan State of Himachal Pradesh. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. 185 (7), 6129-6153. DOI:10.1007/s10661-012-3013-2

Wang SY, Qi CJ, Li ZK, 1991. Forestry in Hunan Province., Hunan, China: Hunan Science and Technology Press.

Contributors

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03/08/18 Updated by: 
Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

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